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Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed. When they speak with their enemies in the gate.  Psalm 127: 3-5

Okay, I realize that my poor blog has been neglected over the last month or so.  Business has been partially to blame, but so has one other reason.

We are expecting a baby! Yep, that’s right, baby #4 will be joining our family sometime this summer. This pregnancy has been the most difficult of them all. Lots of “morning sickness” though mine lasts all day long  and terrible insomnia which has kept me from working on my blog as well as doing many other things around the house.

I am looking forward to the nausea subsiding so I can get back to blogging.

 

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The cold has once again reared it’s ugly head at our house and I am trying to find ways to make those who have been afflicted feel more comfortable.. Having grown up in Germany I have learned that there is much value in a combination of homeopathic and allopathic medicines. I am always trying to find more natural products to help sooth and heal minor aliments (though I am by no means against Tylenol, or cold and flu medication) .

Here are a few teas that can be very helpful.

Ginger Tea – This tea has long been used in the treatment of  vomiting and motion sickness. Ginger is also known to help lower cholesterol and works as a blood thinner. It is also a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium, if the tea is made with real ginger. Eating a little ginger each day will also help boost your immune system.

Chamomile Tea – Chamomile can be taken as a tea, or used externally. Chamomile is often used for: soothing skin rashes, controlling insomnia, soothing mouth sores, relieve stress, promoting general relaxation and even help calm a colic baby. It can be woman’s best friend because it can reduce menstrual cramps and alleviate nausea during pregnancy.

Rooibos Tea –  It comes from a red bush in South Africa, and is also also known as Red Tea. It  is used for healing skin rashes, relieving nervous tension, irritability, headaches and insomnia. Rooibos Tea contains many  minerals including alpha-hydroxy known for leaving skin smooth and healthy. Because of its high mineral content, Rooibos Tea is also good for your teeth and bones as well as your metabolism. In some a health food stores, you may find it called Allergy Tea, because of its effectiveness in treating seasonal allergies.

Peppermint Tea – Peppermint has menthol in it which helps ease diarrhea, headaches and upset stomach. It helps clears congestion and cough related to colds and allergies and Peppermint also contains B vitamins, calcium, and potassium.

Green Tea – Green it is sometimes referred to as natures “wonder drug”. Studies have shown that people who drink green tea on a regular basis have a much lower risk of cancer because if it’s important antioxidants. It is also said that it helps prevent tooth decay, dementia, hearth disease and can help lower cholesterol and raise metabolism.

Chamomile and Green teas are my favorite and ones I have given to my children often.  I always wonder what people did hundreds of years ago, before Advil, Tums, Excedrin and other meds that we now take for granted. I am sure they had some soothing secrets that have sadly been forgotten over the years.

We use gumballs as little treats during our school time. It is such a simple thing and the kids look forward to it each day. Sadly our gumball machine broke and I am left with a huge bucket of gumballs.  The kids don’t mind because now they can pick which color they want.
Today I  came across this gumball machine from LTD. What a cute idea. I don’t know where I would hang it but I am tempted to buy it.

GJF_mn

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As I continue reading “A Praying Life”, I have come to a chapter called “Become Like A Little Child”. If I want to improve my prayer life than I need to act a little more like a little child in my relationship toward God.  This may seem strange. After all, when older kids and adults act like little children it is not particularly cute, attractive or appealing.  Yet, in Mark 10:14-15 and Mark 9:33-37 Jesus tells the disciples that if they want to be a part of his kingdom they need to become like a child.

So  what exactly is Miller getting at? Little kids ask about everything, and they ask often.  They can be very persistent about something they think they want. Little children are very real and blunt in their asking. They don’t beat around the bush or phrase their requests in clever or cunning ways. If they want something or are unhappy about things they blurt it right out. There is not a fake bone in their body and that is how Jesus wants us to come to him. But we are uncomfortable with this kind of authenticity – especially with God. Instead we try to approach God with well organized and thought out prayers and we get frustrated when our minds get sidetracked or when our prayers come out sounding spiritually inept. We need to learn to be real.

Miller says that,

the difficulty of coming just as we are is that we are messy. When we slow down to pray, we are immediately confronted with how unspiritual we are, with how difficult it is to concentrate on God. We don’t know how bad we are until we try to be good.

In contrast, little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as the are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right.   Jesus does not say” Come to me, all you who have learned  how to concentrate in prayer, whose minds no longer wonder, and I will give you rest.”

Instead Jesus wants us to come to him when we are happy, excited, fearful, weary, overwhelmed, disorganized in our minds. Well, messy.

The author makes the point that we should stop trying to get prayer right. We need to be real in our prayer life otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees. “Rarely did they tell Jesus directly what they were thinking.”

“Tell him where you are weary. If you don’t begin with where you are, then where you are will sneak in the back door. Your mind will wander to where you are weary. We are often so busy and overwhelmed that when we slow down to pray, we don’t know where our hearts are. We don’t know what troubles us. So, oddly, enough, we might need to worry before we pray. Then our prayers will make sense. They will be about our real lives.”

Later on we are reminded that when we pray we are talking to a person. We are having a conversation and sometimes when we talk to a close friend we comfortably jump from one topic to another often times getting sidetracked for a while before getting back to the main conversation. Instead of getting frustrated when our minds begin to wander, we should pray about the things that our minds wander to. That might be more spiritual than you realize.  Maybe that is the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

So far this has been the best book on prayer I have ever read. Get it and read it!

Snowflake Pumpkins

Here is a cute little fall craft for young ones. Instead of cutting out snowflakes from paper, use the same technique to make paper pumpkins.

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Go to this website, Mer Mag, to get directions and see other pumpkin cutouts.

A Praying Life

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Last night I started a book on prayer called “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller. Here is what I have figured out: I stink at prayer. Do I like to pray?  Yes, most of the time I do, but I don’t feel like I am any good at it.

Here are some of my issues: After only a few seconds I find myself distracted and I really have to work hard to pay attention to my own prayers. In the end I feel a little guilty that I wasn’t able to focus on God for more than a couple of minutes. I often wonder if I have prayed long or hard enough. If I have enough faith or the right words. Sometimes I am afraid that I am nagging, or whining. Other times I worry that I come across as complaining or being unthankful.

I know that I am not alone in feeling this way, and Miller unpacks more reasons so many of us struggle with the discipline of prayer.

He says that some, “in a burst if spiritual enthusiasm put together a prayer list,” but those end up boring us and “nothing seems to happen…. When someone is healed or helped, we wonder if it would have happened anyway. Then we misplace the list.”

Miller also point out that, “praying exposes how self-preoccupied we are and uncovers our doubts. It was easier on our faith not to pray. After only a few minutes our prayers are in shambles, barely out of the staring gate, we collapse on the sidelines – cynical, guilty, and hopeless.”

Here is an observation Mr. Miller makes about the culture we live in and how it effects our prayer. He says,

American culture is probably the hardest place in the world to learn to pray.  We are so busy that when we slow down to pray, we find it uncomfortable. We prize accomplishments, production. But prayer is nothing but talking to God. It feels useless as if we are wasting time. Every bone in our bodies screams, “Get to work.”

We might never say that out loud, but isn’t it so true?  Don’t we often feel like we need to hurry up and pray so we can scratch it off of our to-do list and move on to something else? Even though we know Christ, our relationship with God is still a little dysfunctional. Communicating with God is hard and sometimes awkward.

All of this came out of the first chapter of the book. His insight into how we mess up prayer is so accurate, and I can’t wait to find out what he has to say positively about prayer. Actually I am hopeful that this book will help me to learn to love praying, to look forward to it and to be excited about talking to God without feeling rushed or guilty.

Ending The Day Well

Vasily Perov Children Sleeping

Here is some more advice from Baxter and Scudder about how to end the day with God.

Before returning to sleep, it is wise and necessary to review the actions and mercies of the day past, so that you may be thankful for all the special mercies and humbled for all your sins.

This is necessary in order that you might renew your repentance as well as your resolve for obedience, and in order that you may examine yourself to see whether your soul grew better or worse, whether sin goes down and grace goes up and whether you are better prepared for suffering, death and eternity. (Richard Baxter)

All this being done, yet while you are putting off your apparel, when you are lying down, and when you are in bed, before you sleep, it is good that you commune with your own heart, (Ps. 4:4). If other good and fit meditations offer not themselves, some of these will be seasonable:

When you see yourself without your apparel, consider what you were at your birth, and what you shall be at your death, when you put off this earthly tabernacle… how that you brought nothing into this world, nor shall carry any thing out (1 Tim. 6:7)… This will be an excellent means to give you sweet content in any thing you have (1 Tim. 6:8)… (Henry Scudder).

If you want to be challenged then pick up the book “The Christian’s Daily Walk” by Henry Scudder or look up the Works of Richard Baxter online and read a little of these great men who have a lot of wisdom to share.